Monday, November 26, 2012
Infographics: Pictures Worth More Than 140 Characters
As I followed this election on twitter and other social media platforms (facebook, tumblr and pinterest) I noticed more and more infographics being used. An infographic, according to wikipedia, is a graphic visual representation of informaiton, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. For the purpose of the 2012 election this means the candidates have an opportunity to display a large amount of information in a visually appealing way to potential voters. Twitter limits the amount of characters per tweet to 140, meaning it can be difficult for campaigs or candidates to address complex issues or to adequately compare and contrast their own views with the opposition. The infographic changes this, allowing the tweet to direct the reader to a link where a graphic pops up and displays all the relevant information.
I am a visual learner, I thrive in an environment where there are charts and graphs available for me to digest data through. Infographics helped me become a more informed voter both before and after the election. Throughout the debates and the months leading up to the election I noticed both parties utilizing infographics to engage their constituencies. Whether it be to distribute more information in one tweet than the 140 characters would allow or to have people on facebook engage with the material (likes and shares for a particularly contentious topic). Here is a great article on the most popular infographics http://www.graphs.net/201211/top-10-infographics-of-us-elections-2012.html. After the election I began looking at different electoral college maps and noticed the one above, it shows the states distorted by number of electoral votes. It proved to me that while area wise the republicans won more states, the population centers went mostly to the democrats.
In moving beyond the election, I started to look for infographics to help with my social media strategy for myself. The infographic to the left provided me with insight on when I should tweet, how to increase my engagement level and even how many characters I should include to maximize my influence. In a very short amount of time I was able to digest the information and find what I needed to alter how I use my twitter.
My question for the future is how will this change the political landscape and the landscape of the social media? I anticipate infographics gaining traction into the next election, instead of seeing pamphlets distributed or having paragraphs summarizing the positions of a candidate I suspect infographics will be used. It will be interested to see specifically how this impacts microblogging sites like twitter because they are designed to be limited in their scope. I'm wondering if the influence of twitter will be diminished with the rise of infographics because it will entail people looking for information beyond the text of the tweet or if it will increase twitter's influence for just that reason: more information will be available in less time and with less text. I guess only time will tell.